Peter was commended for seeing what everyone else had failed to see. Though peter may have only been a spokesman for the other disciples, who may have also seen the Christ in Jesus. To everyone else Jesus, the Son of Man and the disciples were visible. But the Christ in Jesus was not visible to those ordinary people, as this could only be revealed by the Heavenly Father. See [Where is the Church that Jesus founded?]
Jesus, as Son of Man, had been visible to others, some of who assumed He was one of the prophets. But the Christ in Jesus was not visible. That which Peter identified as the Son of the Living God, had not been visible to the rest of the people, leading Jesus to ask the question: Who do people say the Son of man is? This is why Jesus even said to Peter, Flesh and blood had not revealed what was revealed to Peter (Matthew 16:13-20). This invisibility—not revealed by flesh and blood—but identified by Peter, constituted what would be the Church that Jesus was talking about.
While visible to those who had repented and got baptized, after Jesus had ascended to Heaven, the Church of Jesus Christ was not visible to everyone else in that surrounding. The reason why Paul was persecuting the Church before His conversion, was that the Church Jesus founded had not been visible to Paul, until Jesus struck him with lightning, leading to his eyes being opened to then see what he had not seen before.
The systematic persecution of the Church after Jesus had left, was a clear sign that the general populace, in that surrounding—the majority of who were persecutors of the disciples—could not see the Church, because it had been invisible. As attached to Jewish religion those people ought to have seen the Church but they could not see it?
Those apostles preached in synagogues, just as this was the custom of their Master, Jesus Christ (Luke 4:16) (Acts 17:2). There was no physical Church building, distinguishable to the disciples’ newly found faith. The unconverted people to whom the disciples preached, could not see that which had caused the apostles to even prefer losing their lives for, than succumbing. This is why all of them were killed, except John.
Physically, the disciples could be seen by everyone. But those people could not easily establish that they represented the Church that Jesus founded. However, no-one could point a finger at a physical Church building to say that was the Church that Jesus founded. Those disciples represented the Church that Jesus founded. But to ordinary people, that Church had been invisible—as no-one else could recognize those disciples as comprising a Church. Its institution had been privately communicated to the disciples, by Jesus, who had strictly advised them not to tell anyone (Matthew 16:20).
The visibility of that Church, after the emergence of the Roman Catholic, resulted from the approval of the governing authority of the Roman Empire. For the first time, through the declaration by the Roman Catholic Church—as now Headquartered in Italy—the entire world assumed to then see what had all along been invisible. From then on, that Church would operate without restrictions, or constraints, as had been the case before.
To ordinary people, the Roman Catholic Church, with the state approval, became visible, so that ordinary people could point at it as representing the Church that Jesus founded. Previously, while the Churches are mentioned in the recorded Scriptures, ordinary people could not have seen what would be identifiable with the Roman Catholic structures, as known today. In simple terms, the characteristics of the Roman Catholic Church distinguished itself as a counterfeit of the Church that Jesus had founded, through Peter, because:
a) The Roman Catholic Church instituted the governing structures, with the Pope superintending—which was uncharacteristic of the original Church. While Jesus announced that on Peter He would build His Church, Scriptures do not show that Peter superintended over others, as Jesus promised to lead His Church Spiritually, Himself (John 14:18). See [The authority of Jesus]
b) Ever since that time, the Roman Catholic Church has enjoyed state approval, unlike the early disciples, who had to be killed for failure to conform to the government of the day. Jesus and the early disciples had no connection with the governing authorities. This has caused various dissenters to conclude that the Roman Catholic Church could be an organization that represented the Great Prostitute mentioned in Revelation 17?
c) There are various other additions by the Roman Catholic Church—too many to mention—some of which were cited by the German Professor of theology, Martin Luther, as the first dissenter. Most of the recorded dissenters accused the Roman Catholic Church for implementing traditions without Scriptural backing. To this day, the Roman Catholic Church authorities have not responded to those accusations.
d) Unlike the Roman Catholic Church, the early apostles preached the gospel of the Kingdom of God, to be established by Jesus Christ, who will not, necessarily, take that authority from the Pope. That Kingdom has got nothing in common with the kingdoms of this world, as it is Heavenly administered.
e) That Church is not a physical building, typified in the Church building structure in Italy, but a spiritual Temple, whose structure comprises human beings, who are the Sons of the living God, and not identifiable with the Sons of Man, easily identifiable by everyone. Those people have a direct relationship with their Father in Heaven, as in a family relationship. There are no restrictions or protocols to be observed, in that kind of relationship (Ephesians 2:19-22).
f) While, today, the Pope is distinctly visible, as the leader of the Roman Catholic Church, Jesus, the founder of the Church that He founded was not distinctly visible, as a leader of that group. A kiss had to be employed, for purposes of His killers to easily identify Him. Jesus had been visible, as the Son of Man, but not visible as the Son of the living God (Matthew 16:16-20). In the same way, His disciples were visible, as ordinary Sons of Man, but their persecutors could not identify them as Children of the living God (Romans 8:16-17).
g) It is the clear departure from Christ’s word, through various traditions instituted by the Roman Catholic Church that leaves people sceptical of Roman Catholic Church—as representative of the Church that Jesus founded. Yet Jesus clearly stated that the truth would set people free if they would abide by His word (John 8:31-32)?
h) The Church that Jesus left had disciples, all of which reported to Him, directly. This is why Paul castigated the Corinthians for failing to understand the importance of this datum (1 Corinthians 3:1-9). To require everyone to approve of Catholicism, as representing the Church that Jesus founded, would be a departure from what Paul Said, when castigating those preferring human leaders, instead of Christ.
i) While others are convinced that the Pope represents the authority of Jesus, others are not convinced, based on what Paul said to the Corinthians. Paul clarified the distinction—in that behaving like mere humans, is different from behaving Godly (verse 4). Obviously, Paul’s recommendation was that those Corinthian Christians were to regard Christ ahead of human leaders.
Jesus Himself had clearly declared: “Why do you call me ‘Lord, Lord,’ and not do what I tell you? Everyone who comes to me and hears my words and does them, I will show you what he is like: he is like a man building a house, who dug deep and laid the foundation on the rock. And when a flood arose, the stream broke against that house and could not shake it, because it had been well built. But the one who hears and does not do them is like a man who built a house on the ground without a foundation. When the stream broke against it, immediately it fell, and the ruin of that house was great” (Luke 6:46-49) (ESV).
j) In this world of corruption, anyone can claim to represent the true Church that Jesus founded. To see the Church that Jesus founded, one needs Biblical guidance, more than human authorities. The infallible Scriptures are there to guide those desiring not to be in error.
Truth cannot come from the Pope, or any other leader of a Christian organization. But from Jesus, when carefully analysing scriptures, to abide by what Jesus taught. To some, the truth still remains that the true Church that Jesus founded, cannot be pointed at, on the basis of visibility—just as the Church could not be pointed at, in Jesus’ time and during the apostles’ time. See[Jesus Christ established an invisible Church].
Actually, after Peter had managed to identify Jesus as Son of the living God, Jesus charged His disciples not to tell anyone (Matthew 16:20). Jesus had been visible as the Son of Man. But the Son of the living God in Him had not been visible. The disciples were visible as sons of Men.
But the Son of the living God in them was not visible (Romans 8:16-17). Truth can only be established on the basis of accurate applications of what Jesus and the apostles practiced and taught, as recorded in Scriptures.
If the Roman Catholic Church is truly the representative of the Church that Jesus founded, then they have to remove Scriptures like Matthew 23:8-12. And various others, where Jesus taught that among His disciples, none was to be regarded as greater than others.
Jesus said the greatest was to be the one who would be the servant of all (Mark 9:33-37). This principle, which cannot be applicable in current civilization, is what makes the Church that Jesus founded not visible. Any visible Church assumed as representing that Church, would be a dummy.
However, the glaring truth about the invisibility of the Church is in that:
Jesus was crucified because people could not see that He was the Christ.
The disciples were killed, because their persecutors did not see that those disciples represented the Church that Jesus founded.
Jesus told Nicodemus: “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born again he cannot see the Kingdom of God” (John 3:3).
The ones in whom Jesus dwells have direct communication with Jesus and the Father. “If you love me, you will keep my commandments. And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Helper, to be with you forever, even the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees him nor knows him. You know him, for he dwells with you and will be in you” (Emphasis mine) (John 14:15-17) (ESV).
I have no qualms with the Roman Catholic Church, as an organization—as long as its members have not seen the truth, and therefore having not seen the true Church that Jesus founded. That Church can only be seen by those having encountered Jesus, like Paul, on his way to Damascus (Acts 9:1-9).
I am aware that the Roman Catholic Church cannot even see that the reason why Paul was going to Damascus to persecute the disciples is that he had not seen the Church that Jesus founded. To Paul the Church had been invisible.
It is important to also note that, even though the Church that Jesus founded is not related to various Church organizational groupings, as known today. None of those groupings can represent the true Church that Jesus founded, or representing the false one, necessarily.
Among those groupings you may have individual members belonging to the Church that Jesus founded and others belong to the false Church. This is why Jesus said “No-one can come to me, except the Father who sent me draws Him”(John 6:44).
We are all called by God for different reasons, known only by God. The calling is between the individual and God. Some of those may, actually, be the weeds that Jesus talked about (Matthew 13:24-30). The responsibility of a Christian is to do what one understands as coming from the authority of Jesus. See[The authority of Jesus]
It is not the business of a Christian to occupy oneself with the wrongness of other people, except to make a difference. Jesus never talked about judging people according to perceptions of groupings, but according to individual behaviors, as guided by the word of God.
The important datum is that we are judged individually, not as groupings. What we do, even as we relate to the groups under which we belong is what counts. The question is how do we conduct ourselves, as guided by the word of God, not necessarily by the leader of the concerned organizational grouping. The authority of Jesus remains fundamental.
Andrew Masuku is the author of Dimensions of a New Civilization, laying down standards for uplifting Zimbabwe from current state of economic depression into a model for other nations worldwide. A decaying tree provides an opportunity for a blossoming sprout. Written from a Christian perspective, the book is a product of inspiration, bringing reliefs to those having witnessed strings of unworkable solutions––leading to the current economic and social decay. In a simple conversational tone, most Zimbabweans should find the book as a long awaited providential oasis of hope.
The Print copy is now available at Amazon.com for $13.99